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What items are considered as used personal effects under these rules?
Used personal effects which are required for satisfying daily necessities of life are allowed duty free.
Although the term "used personal effects required for satisfying daily necessities of life" has not been defined in the Baggage Rules, it is the customs officer who exercises his/her judgement in deciding the nature of the items. There is no point in publishing a list as this can include a whole range of items. Generally, the term includes items like all used items of personal wear, used cosmetics, used bedding, used toiletries, umbrella, walking sticks, used shoes, hair dryer, hearing aid, shaving kit, spectacles, shoe brush & polish etc. and one watch. Any other item can be included, based on the merits and on a case-to-case basis.
Various electronic items, furniture and "white goods" cannot be brought as personal effects. Specifically, the items mentioned at Annexures I & II of the Baggage Rules cannot be brought as personal effects.
Note : Personal effects in respect of Indian residents returning from abroad is not to be confused with the personal effects of tourists who are coming to India on a short trip. Although both types of personal effects are allowed duty free, the tourists' personal effects include, apart from the above items, a list of 15 specified items which must be taken back abroad when the tourist returns. For details on personal effects in respect of tourists, please Refer Following.
What are the Personal Effects allowed duty free in respect of tourists? Are those different from those allowed duty free in respect of Residents coming from a trip abroad?
A comprehensive list of what constitutes "Personal Effects" (which can be brought in free of duty subject to condition of re-export) in respect of Tourists coming to India ( includes Indian passport holders/Indian Citizens living abroad coming on short trip to India. ) is as below :
(i) Personal jewellery
(ii) One camera with film rolls not exceeding twenty.
(iii) One video camera/camcorder with accessories and with video cassettes not exceeding twelve.
(iv) One pair of Binoculars
(v) One portable color television (not exceeding 15 cms in size)
(vi) One music system including compact disc player.
(vii) One portable typewriter.
(viii) One perambulator.
(ix) One tent and other camping equipment.
(x) One computer (laptop/notebook).
(xi) One electronic diary.
(xii) One portable wireless receiving set (transistor radio).
(xiii) Professional equipment, instruments and apparatus or appliances including professional audio/video equipments.
(xiv) Sports equipments such as one fishing outfit, one sporting fire arm with fifty cartridges, one non-powered bicycle, one canoe or ranges less than 51 meters long, one pair of skids, two tennis rackets, one golf set (14 pcs. with a dozen of golf balls).
(xv) One cell phone.
A tourist is supposed to take back the items which have not been consumed during the stay in India when he/she returns.
Although the Baggage Rules allows only used personal effects, it is not the intention of the Customs dept. to verify the newness of every product which a traveller brings, as long as it is not a prima facie new item in their original packing which can be disposed off readily.
No endorsement is made on the passport as per CBEC Circular No. 12/2000 dt.18.2.2000. There is no provision in the Baggage Rules to endorse passport, which is a valuable legal document. All genuine tourists are to be allowed to bring in personal effects etc. without endorsement on the passport and without payment of duty, subject to the prescribed conditions. However, it is the responsibility of the Customs Officer to ensure as far as practicable that the passenger is a genuine tourist and that he/she intends to take the items back abroad during his/her return.
Note : Personal Effects that are allowed duty free in respect of tourists are different from the personal effects allowed duty free in respect of Residents of India coming back from a trip abroad and the two are not to be confused. Usually, the personal effects in respects of Residents are also allowed duty free in respect of tourists but the reverse is not true. The personal effects allowed in respect of tourists are to be taken back abroad during their return.
Does the Customs Officer make any scrutiny before allowing duty-free the personal effects of tourists ?
Since no endorsement is made on the passport of the tourist, it is the responsibility of the Customs Officer to ascertain, as far as practicable, whether the passenger is a genuine tourist and if so, whether he/she intends to return abroad within the prescribed period with the personal effects being allowed free of duty. While the Baggage Rules do not specify any methodology, usually the practice is that the passport and visa of the passenger is scrutinized for his/her duration of stay, previous visits etc. and the officer may ask some questions regarding his/her job abroad, purpose of visit in India etc.
Usually, passengers having return tickets are given quick clearance as a return ticket is considered as a proof of the passenger's intention to return abroad within a short time. In case a return ticket is not available with the passenger (or as additional evidences), the passenger may produce proof like live visa for staying abroad, valid job contract, proof of holding property abroad, proof of overseas bank balance, foreign citizenship/passport or any other such convincing proofs etc. as evidence of his/her intention to return abroad within a short period.